Payton was suspended for the entire 2012 season for his role in the Saints bounty scandal. He is eligible to be reinstated after the Super Bowl on Feb. 3, but ESPN cited a source close to the coach in reporting that Payton is lobbying to be permitted to return after the regular season ends.
"I don't want to say he could be (back before the Super Bowl) because, again, we are in the early stages," Goodell said after the conclusion of the December Special League Meeting in Dallas. "We are starting to talk about it."
Goodell said he and Payton would discuss the coach's reinstatement in more detail after the holidays.